If there was one thing on my Vienna wish list, it was to visit the opera.
Before embarking on my mini-Europe adventure, I knew there were a few things in each city I really wanted to experience. And visiting the opera in a city renowned for its culture was, of course, high on the Vienna list.
I began my search for tickets a couple of months before arriving, but had no luck finding anything for less than a small fortune for either of the two nights I’d be in the city. Slightly disappointed, I figured that I’d probably be back to Vienna at some point in the future and I could try again then. As I carried on scouring blogs and magazines to find other cool things to do in the city, I read that there were standing tickets available for a fraction of the price of seated tickets. All I’d have to do it join a queue on the night and hope I get a ticket. And so, after a busy second day in Vienna I made my way to the Vienna State Opera House with my boyfriend in tow, ready to try our luck for cheap tickets to the opera. A short 20-minute wait and being repeatedly harassed by ticket touts, we picked up our tickets for a mere €3 each. €3 euros! I’d seen them on sale for hundreds of pounds, and we’d just picked them up for the a few euros each!
We hurriedly made our way into the opera house before anyone could realise they’d been selling the tickets so cheaply by mistake, and headed toward the standing area our tickets were for. As we’d had to queue so early, there was quite a while before the show would start, so we reserved our spots with a scarf, dropped our coats in to the cloakroom and had a nose around.
I won’t attempt to review the opera that we saw – I wouldn’t be able to do it justice, and I didn’t really understand a lot of what was going on. As we had an early start the next morning, we’d thought about staying for the first half and then ducking out to be able to get some food and a decent amount of sleep.
The first half of the opera was a bit of an eyeopener for me. Of course it wasn’t in English, but it wasn’t even in German. I had no idea what they were saying, and struggled a tiny bit to watch and at the same time keep up with the subtitles which are displayed in English or German (you get to choose) on a screen in front of each seat and standing place. As the interval neared, I was ready to head out. I didn’t know what was going on, the storyline made no sense to me and I was starting to get tired of standing.
At this point, my boyfriend reminded me that we were at the opera, in Vienna. How often would we get to do this? And how would we ever know what the opera was about if we didn’t stick it out to the end? Although we had to be up super early in the morning, we could sleep on the train, and so decided to stay for the second half too. I’m so glad we did, because it was only in the last 10-15 minutes that everything started to make sense to me.
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience, and I feel like I levelled up in the culture world. Now I can tick ‘see an opera’ off my life to-do list, I’ll just have to visit again to try and tick ‘understand the opera’ off…
- If you don’t mind standing for a couple of hours, standing tickets are a great way to get cheap tickets to the opera in Vienna. There are bannisters you can lean on, so it’s not as bad as you’d think.
- Opera dress code: Some people really dress up for the opera, but anything smart or smart casual will stop you feeling really underdressed.
- If you’ve not had a chance to preorder tickets and don’t want to stand, there are lots of ticket touts trying to sell their tickets cheaply, and you can pick up seats for about €15-20 if you’re lucky. Just be careful to check where you’ll be seated.
- Take snacks and drinks with you, it’s quite pricey to buy them there.